oriental plain tiger

Posted by on 11 Apr 2014

The plain tiger enjoys a celebrity status of being the first butterfly in the recorded history. It was depicted in a painting, with its distinct colors and patterns, in the tomb of Nebamun in Egypt, circa 1350 BCE – that’s more than 3300 years before!

oriental plain tiger, male at korlai, maharashtra

It’s a tiger not merely in its stripes and colors. It is a terror to potential predators too! Their bodies contain toxic alkaloids from plants, which they have devoured as a larvae. Birds and predators memorize and associate the unsavoriness of these butterfly species with their patterns and habits, and try to avoid them. This, in turn, is found to have evolutionary consequences in other “edible” butterflies, which ended up mimicing similar colors and patterns in order to escape from the predators.

The image above is of a male oriental plain tiger, and they have a pouch on the hindwing, which has scent scales to attract females! The pouch can be identified as a distinct white spot with a thick black border.

Research shows that the sex ratio of the broods alternate between an excess of females and males, according to the season. That is, there are more females in the brood at the start of the rains when population density increases rapidly, and an excess of males in the driest months, probably due to enhanced survival.

oriental plain tiger, male at korlai, maharashtra
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re-friend a sparrow

Posted by on 20 Mar 2014

It’s world sparrow day today, 20th March. Sparrows have been those winged companions of humans for a long time. Over the recent years there has been a sharp decline in the sparrow sightings though- probably owing to the mindless advancement of their human companions?

Here are some images from our kitchen window, and ideas on how you can re-friend a sparrow.

house sparrow, passer domesticus at bird feed
A female house sparrow feeding a juvenile.
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crimson marsh glider and its pruinescence

Posted by on 09 Dec 2013

Crimson marsh gliders are crimson, and frequent visitors to marshlands.

crimson marsh glider, trithemis aurora

Well, it is the male who is crimson, and the female (below) adorns totally different colors.
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popinjay, scat puddling

Posted by on 27 Jul 2013

If you are on butterfly watch on a trail, the best place to spot them would be over rotten fruits—or animal scats. Butterflies do mud puddling for their sodium/salt intake. Probably for similar reasons, they also end up on animal scats, and the behavior can be called scat puddling.

popinjay butterfly, stibochiona nicea

The image here is of a popinjay butterfly, intoxicated by the decomposing animal scat, and unaware of the surroundings. There are more butterflies enjoying the feast, in the image below—how many can you spot?
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the big bumble bee and the little honey bee

Posted by on 09 Jul 2013

Who’s in first?

A bumble bee and a dwarf honey bee competing for nectar.

black hairy bumblebee and dwarf honey bee

Bumble bees and the dwarf honey bees belong to the same family, apidae, which includes the common honey bees too.
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